What, more than anything in the world, makes for a happy German Shepherd? A job, of course! And our Jessie was no exception. Jessie came to us from a local animal control office, where she had been found stray. She was not spayed, had a touch of frostbite, and worst of all, had a heart worm infection. We took her in at the sanctuary, knowing that our staff and our volunteers made us well equipped to guide her through the arduous recovery process.
Once Jessie arrived, she quickly won everyone’s hearts with her endless affection and lighthearted demeanor. And boy, did she love to work. Like any good herder, she always kept a close eye on her flock, namely the staff and volunteers. She loved meeting and working with the other dogs and made some great friends. Her most valuable job for us was as Henree House hostess, since she could always be counted on to graciously greet any visitor, even small children, and put on a little show. She also excelled as a Buddy Project dog, helping at risk teens learn dog training skills. But I think her favorite job could best be described as “tennis ball herder.”
While Jessie loved all of these jobs, she was definitely missing the one job every dog aspires to: life long companion to a person of her own. That person finally came along this summer. Tim had a traumatic brain injury that had damaged his short term memory. He was moving into a new home and, while he had great human caretakers, there was one vacancy he needed to fill: a dog to help him through the rough spots and make his life complete. And we had just the girl for the job. Jessie and Tim bonded immediately and after a few visits with her, we knew it was the perfect match. Jessie is now permanently employed, giving her guy unlimited love and support, and of course, chasing down every tennis ball she can.
This is the story of a wayward rocket who found her way home. Kaylee arrived at the Our Companions Sanctuary in February of 2014. She came to us from a local animal control office where she was being treated for a heartworm infection. She exploded into our lives with lots of energy and lots of love and joy. But for as much as she was all smiles, all the time, she was also lots work. She had no obedience training and had not been properly socialized as a puppy. She loved people, but had no idea about what was appropriate behavior. We knew we had a project on our hands.
The first step was to get Kaylee some serious exercise. Our dedicated volunteers would take her out two to three times a day for walks and playtime, sometimes even taking her for a jog around Ashford Lake or on field trips to a local state park. Then, there was the obedience training. Not only did Kaylee get training from the staff and volunteers as part of her daily life, but she was even taken to the Canine College classes that we offer at our Program Center in Manchester. She excelled at her class work, mastering all of her commands, and even progressing up to a Tricks Class, where she learned to dunk a ball in a toy hoop and even ride a skateboard. Her high skill level, along with her joyfulness and love, also made her a great candidate for our Buddy Project, where Our Companions dogs are paired with at risk teens to help teach them dog training skills. Kaylee’s perpetual smile and penchant for flashy tricks made her a favorite of the students. Then, with her exercise and obedience skills in place, we were able to work on her house manners. Again, our volunteers worked with dedication and patience to make sure that Kaylee knew how to properly greet people, how to ask to play, and the difference between what was and was not a toy. This little girl with rocket fuel in her veins was finally getting on course, and we knew our project was reaching it’s end.
Early this summer, we participated in a statewide “clear the shelters” event that brought lots of potential adopters to our door. Many were interested in Kaylee, but then she met “the one.” A couple who had experience with “project dogs” and who accepted Kaylee for the exuberant girl she was. Someone to guide Kaylee on the last leg of her journey. There were many misty eyes at the sanctuary the day Kaylee went to her forever home, but we all knew that this is what Our Companions is all about. A team of caring people coming together to help a dog like Kaylee find her way.